Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Persian Cinderella

Sherry Climo has published several multicultural versions of the Cinderella tale. In The Persian Cinderella, she takes on the challenge of a tale from the Arabian nights located in Ancient Persia, today's Iran.

The Persian Cinderella has some unique features that those only familiar with the Grimm's tale may not recognize. In keeping with the cultural traditions, there is no ball and the prince does not go looking for his princess, his mother seeks out the girl who lost, not a shoe, but a diamond anklet.

This version does have some of the classic Cinderella elements. Settareh, the Persian Cinderella, does have a mean stepmother and cruel stepsisters who treat her badly. This version differs in that the father provides all the daughters with the money to attend the No Ruz, or New Year's festival. Settareh finds herself drawn into helping others and one rather odd purchase that seem to provide little opportunity to advance her chances of getting away from her family. The old woman she helps promises her that good will come from her generosity. One of her purchases ends up having a fairy in it that grants her wishes first for basic needs and then of course for a chance to attend the festival.

In keeping with the cultural traditions, this Cinderella never dances with the Prince, but she does commit a social mistake when she catches the eye of a man on the way into the festival. Of course, the reader knows that must be the Prince.

In this version, there is no shoe to fit the escaping Cinderella, but the clever mother of the groom does find Settareh and the future bride is able to provide the matching anklet. Unlike many Cinderella stories, the sisters are not thwarted at the shoe/anklet matching. These sisters are more devious and continue to pursue a means of catching the prince for their own marital prize. They steal her magic jar and ask for a means of getting rid of her forever. They are provided with a set of hairpins. As they prepare their sister's hair for her wedding, they stick the pins in her head. As the last pin is in place, their sister disappears and a dove sits in her place. I have not encountered a Cinderella tale with this twist before.

Much to the sisters’ disgust, the Prince does not turn to them for comfort, but in his distress over his lost bride, he comforts himself by taming the dove. When the bird eventually allows him to touch its head, he discovers pins stuck in its head. When he removes the last one, his bride appears. At that point, the reader is given the expected happy wedding ceremony. The jealous sisters explode and are no longer a problem for the couple.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

July Free Fun Friday Events 2012

Highland Street Foundation is sponsoring free events on Fridays in Massachusetts through August 31. You can check their website here and also explore the individual host sites to learn more about the activities being provided.


Boston Children's Museum in Boston

Stone Zoo in Stonehan

Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis

Wenham Museum in Wenham

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Williamstown


Franklin Park Zoo in Boston

Children's Museum at Holyoke in Holyoke

Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln

Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham


Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford

Mass Audubon Visual Arts Center in Canton

Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield

Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown

Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester


Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in Boston

Children's Museum in Easton in North Easton

Springfield Museums in Springfield

New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston

New Repertory Theatre in Watertown

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Place for Zero

A Place for Zero (Charlesbridge Math Adventures (Paperback))is a fun adventure story designed to introduce children to place value and the purpose of zero. Many children are taught to count from one. Children encounter zero when they get to ten, but he is often not seen as an individual number in the same way the numbers one through nine are viewed. As the hero of the story, Zero attempts to find his purpose in life. In doing so, he reminds not only children, but also adults about the importance of remembering to talk about zero and its function in math. From the story, children learn about why we have a zero and are provided with a basic introduction to place value.

I am glad to see more picture books taking on the challenges of math vocabulary and concepts in a fun and engaging way for children.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Very Improbable Story

A Very Improbable Storyis a picture book designed to introduce children to the idea of probability.

Ethan awakes one morning to find a cat on his head, only it is not his cat. The cat refuses to leave until Ethan wins a game of Odds. The cat proceeds to beat Ethan and he is left wondering if he will be wearing a cat hat to his final soccer match.

As he keeps playing the game, Ethan realizes that the high probabilities make his chances of winning unlikely. At breakfast, he discovers a low probability option that finally gets the cat off his head. He uses his new knowledge of probability to work on improving his shot choice and hopes it will result in a win for his team.

This will not help children master probability, but it will introduce them to the concept and some general idea of where probabilities occur in the real world. It is again a great way to introduce a concept that can be challenging to learners early as a way of easing anxiety later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Multicultural and Alternate Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes

As I was working on my list of Cinderella books which can be found here, I started to find other books, which didn't fit the list, but I wanted to be able to locate so I could share with others later. Since I thought parents and teachers might also have an interest, I thought I would start the list on my blog and keep adding to it as I found more titles that fit. I am finding this is one of the easiest ways to share information as I can always send a link without wondering where I saved the list on my computer.


Beauty and the Beast:

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast TaleReview here

The Scarlet Flower. A fairy tale for children: in EnglishReview here

Little Red Riding Hood:


Petite Rouge (Picture Puffins)Review here


Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from ChinaReview here


Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from AfricaReview here

Three Little Pigs:

Three Little Cajun PigsReview here

Alternate Versions:

Frog Prince:

Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody!: The Story of the Frog Prince as Told by the Frog (The Other Side of the Story)Review here

The Frog Prince, Continued (Picture Puffin)Review here


Goldie Socks and the Three LibeariansReview here

Goldilocks ReturnsReview here

Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!: The Story of the Three Bears as Told by Baby Bear (The Other Side of the Story)Review here

Henny Penny:

Brainy Bird Saves the Day!: Henny Penny Retold (Another Point of View)Review here

The House That Jack Built:

The Book that Jack Wrote Review here

Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty Dumpty Climbs AgainReview here

The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop (Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hard Boiled Detective)Review here

The Crown Affair (Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries) sequel to What Really Happened to Humpty Dumpty Review here

The Mystery of Merlin and the Gruesome Ghost (Humpty Dumpty, Jr., Hardboiled Detective)Review here

What Really Happened to Humpty? (Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries)Review here

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries Review here

Jack and the Beanstalk:

Giants Have Feelings, Too: Jack and the Beanstalk Retold (Another Point of View)Review here

Trust Me, Jack's Beanstalk Stinks!: The Story of Jack and the Beanstalk as Told by the Giant (The Other Side of the Story)Review here

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk  Chapter Book Review here

Little Boy Blue:

Detective Blue Review here

Little Red Hen:
The Little Red Hen/Help Yourself, Little Red Hen (Another Point of View)Review here

Little Red Riding Hood:

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story)Review here

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood Review here


Rump The True Story of Rumplestiltskin Chapter Book Review here

Snow White:

Seriously, Snow White Was SO Forgetful!: The Story of Snow White as Told by the Dwarves (The Other Side of the Story) Review here

Three Billy Goats Gruff:
The Three Billy Goats Gruff/Just a Friendly Old Troll (Another Point of View)Review here

Three Little Pigs:
Tell the Truth, B.B. WolfReview here

Multiple Stories:

There's a Wolf at the DoorReview here

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lon Po Po A Red Riding Hood Story From China

As I was exploring multicultural Cinderella stories, I started to encounter multicultural versions of other traditional tales familiar to most American students. I decided along with reviewing them, I would make a separate list, for parents and educators who might be interested in exploring them with their children. I will post the list soon.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from Chinatells a slightly different version of the tale.

In this version the mother does not send a child to visit the grandmother, but leaves three girls at home while she sets off for a visit with their grandmother, or as they call her Po Po. A wolf hearing that the children are unattended sets out to trick the children into letting him in the house so he can eat them. The wolf dons a disguise, pretends there has been a mix up, and convinces the children he is their Po Po. He tells them their mother must have taken a different route. The youngest children anxious to see their grandmother hurriedly open the door and the wolf slides by them blowing out the candle that might give away his disguise.

Even in the dark, the children realize that Po Po has some very strange characteristics and the eldest comes to realize they have a wolf on their hands. She devises a plan to rid her family of the wolf, using his own greed against him.

This is a clever version of the tale and it would be interesting to have children compare and contrast how the Chinese children and the traditional Grimm's Red Riding Hood handled the challenges presented by the wolf.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella

In Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderellawe hear the story of Cinderella from a different perspective. This story is told by her godmother. She is a washerwoman living on the island of Martinique. While caring for Cendrillon's mother, she came to be the child's godmother. Her own mother bestowed a special wand upon her, which allows her to help others for a very limited time.

The author adapted this Cinderella tale from a French Creole tale, "Cendrillon" found in Turiault's nineteenth-century Creole Grammar. He added details of Martinique to expand the story and changed the storyteller to the Godmother.

There are a few other unique details in this story. Cendrillon does not have a stepsister, but a half-sister in this story. Her father and stepmother bring a child into the world, though Cendrillon is still reduced to the life of a servant. Her godmother lives with her and is a source of comfort not just on the night of the ball, but throughout her daily challenges. She knows the identity of the man she wants to meet. Her "prince" is Paul Thibault, a kind wealthy man's son. She is upset because her stepmother has forbidden her from attending the ball in honor of Paul’s birthday.

This version explains a question I have long had about an unknown woman showing up at a society ball without a chaperone to accompany her. In this version, her godmother changes not only Cendrillon's gown, but also her own so she can chaperone her goddaughter at the ball. The story does follow the tradition of vegetables and animals becoming transportation and servants. She also must lose the traditional shoe so her beloved can find her.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter

Once again Cindy Neuschwander has found a fun way to introduce math concepts with Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (Math Adventures) math adventure. In case you did not guess it from the title, in this book she addresses perimeter and area.

The story begins with Per visiting her Uncle Sir Cumference, her Aunt Lady Di Ameter, and their son Radius. They teach her a game that is one that children can also play after reading this story and learn some valuable math skills. The game is called Inners and Edges and requires the children to determine the number of edges a shape made of tiles has after being told the number of inners. They are told the game originally belonged to the Countess Areana who lives on the Island of Immeter that is guarded by a sea serpent that keeps visitors away.

This of course leads the children Radius and Per to making a visit to the Island of Immeter where they must use their knowledge of the game to safely get into the tower without being eaten by the sea serpent. As Per works her way through the challenges, with the help of Radius she finds herself the keeper of Immeter Island, becoming Lady Per of Immeter.

This math series is a great way to introduce more challenging math concepts to children. The stories are engaging, and the math solid.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream (Marilyn Burns Brainy Day Books)
is a funny story designed to help children see the relevance of multiplication facts.

While Amanda Bean loves to count, she fails to understand why she should learn to multiply. After all as someone who loves to count, what would be the point in learning to multiply?

Through a few adventures and some very funny dreams, Amanda comes to understand that multiplication is a huge time saver when it comes to counting things. She decides it is a practical tool. Learning it will save her time for other things she loves to do.

For children and parents who have ever questioned why they must learn math, Amanda Bean's journey is a fun story to read. It is not as strong as some of the other math stories I have reviewed in terms of direct instruction. This requires more work from parents or teachers to help children use the opportunities to multiply provided in the story. Marilyn Burns does provide parents and teachers with ways to extend the story and use the examples to help engage children in practicing multiplication. This is likely to be just a fun story about a fantastic dream without some intervention. Other math titles I have reviewed are more successful in engaging children to learn about math independently.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 2012 Free Fun Friday Events

The Highland Street Foundation is again sponsoring Free Fun Friday Events starting with one Friday in June.


Tanglewood in Lenox

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem

Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich

Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket

As always I suggest you check with the venues to find out more about what programs are being offered. You can check out other Free Friday offerings at their website here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

If You Were a Palindrome

If You Were a Palindrome (Word Fun)is another addition to the Word Fun series. This book defines Palindromes as words, phrases, and sentences that read the same forward and backwards. The book gives children wonderful examples and in the back, it gives a list of the words, sentences, and phrases it used.

I did actually find myself using the references provided in the back to explain an example. I really had never thought of a palindrome used in the manner of that example. This is a great way to introduce palindromes to children and to get them to go on a palindrome hunt or to create some of their own.